Kannapolis residents see proposed downtown plan

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 30, 2016

By Megan Braun

For the Salisbury Post

KANNAPOLIS — Dozens gathered Wednesday in the Kannapolis City Hall for the third of three public information sessions regarding the downtown revitalization project. The city purchased 50 acres of downtown property last September, and has sense prepared a comprehensive plan to revitalize the area.

The proposed plan includes three anchors, which are a new sports and entertainment complex, a performing arts center, and a children’s museum. One idea is to move the Kannapolis Intimidators games to the downtown area and designate the current stadium for other uses.

“The current stadium is 20 years old and needs millions of dollars in renovations,” Irene Sacks, director of business and community development said. The Intimidators have been struggling with attendance at games, and relocating the games may bring more spectators. The estimated date for completion of construction of the complex is April 2020.

Though the city will be built up, the plan includes preserving the most historic block of buildings downtown, including the Gem Theater. The stadium and other new buildings will be incorporated into the older buildings to help drive traffic to the downtown core.

A boutique hotel, multistory office complex, and a mixture of retail and restaurant spaces are also included in the plan. The plan is to create a residential district with some low and some high density living areas. There will be space for additional residential units to be added and will be driven by market demand.

One challenge in building downtown is the need to tear up streets and replace aging water and sewer utilities. Once this is complete, West Avenue will be rebuilt as a curved road with two lanes of traffic, including some on-street parking.

“The curved shape creates huge ‘people places’ in front of businesses. It is a radical approach but adds tremendous value,” City Manager Mike Legg said. There will be no curb space in order to keep downtown flat and more useful for large gatherings and events.

“This is a once in a generation opportunity to re-do downtown,” Planning Director Zach Gordon said. For every dollar of public money invested, $3.40 in private investment is expected.

The council is expected to approve the master plan in late July. City Council is already accepting proposals from developers for the first project in downtown.